Last season, the Boston University men’s basketball team clinched a berth in the NCAA basketball tournament after a Patriot League championship victory over Colgate University.
But the squad did not get to play in its first March Madness appearance since 2011, because the 2019-20 campaign was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Terriers went 21-13 en route to a conference title with a 12-6 record in PL play.
Despite last year’s success and the unfortunate timing of the pandemic, head coach Joe Jones said he is focused on this season and this roster.
“Every year you have to look at everything,” Jones said. “Every team is different. We have to respect the fact that this is a new year, and we have to figure out really how this team needs to play.”
BU graduated two seniors from last season, including Max Mahoney, who led last year’s championship team in points, field goal percentage, steals and rebounds.
Despite losing a big piece like Mahoney, the Terriers have six new players to feature this season after the addition of four freshmen and the return of two previously injured players. Jones said he is not overly worried about filling the hole left by the Patriot League Tournament MVP.
“Without [Mahoney], there’s some expanded roles to be had,” Jones said. “Guys want to prove that they’re able to do more, and that’s normal. We’re going to have to use that time to put our team together.”
A major aspect for this current team is finding new leadership on the court. Despite the squad not yet practicing together as a whole team, Jones is confident his floor generals will emerge.
“I think the advantage that this team has is that there are a number of guys that can step up and lead,” Jones said. “There are several guys that have shown that they can jump into that role and make sure that we’re moving in the right direction.”
With the pandemic, the team is faced with new challenges in moving toward a successful season. Before its 2019-20 campaign, the men’s team had participated in the Spain Summer Tour, a pre-season tour which allowed the Terriers to play Spanish teams in the summer of 2019.
This year, the Terriers have no pre-season tour, and are currently limited to practicing in pods. The situation has created challenges as to how the team functions as a unit and, for Jones, in being able to judge the players’ performance.
But Jones said he remains neutral on who he thinks has the ability to step up for his team. He said the competition between his players is beneficial.
“If I’m open-minded, and I give guys a chance to see what they can do, I think that’s the best way that we can go,” Jones said.
The season will consist of conference-only play within the Terriers’ own “mini-conference” that was formed by the PL in order to limit team travel, in which BU will face the College of the Holy Cross, Colgate, United States Military Academy and Lafayette College. There will also be no fans at the Terriers’ home contests.
Despite the COVID-19 protocols keeping his team from practicing as an entire crew, Jones said he is looking forward to facing the challenges that come with meeting the expectations set by past achievements.
“The thing that I am most excited about is to see how far this team could go … and really seeing if these guys can now get back there [to last season’s success],” Jones said. “I’m really excited about that possibility for this group.”
BU will tip off the season in Worcester against Holy Cross on Jan. 2.